Sacramento, CA – Fire sprinklers keep arson church fire from spreading

Two Sacramento-area churches were damaged late Tuesday and early Wednesday morning in fires believed to be started by an arsonist.

The first fire was reported at 11:56 p.m. at St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church at 14th Avenue.

Several windows were kicked in at the church and fire was set to an administrative office and library.

“It’s wasteful, that’s what it is. Somebody that don’t got nothing to do and the devil is busy nowadays. We was fortunate it’s just this amount of damage,” said church trustee and head of maintenance Richard Heidelberg.

A fire sprinkler system kept the blaze from spreading but caused major water damage in several offices.

“We have a lot of water damage and just two places with smoke damage, but all of our offices in our administration wing, all those are flooded out and the carpet and everything and down the hallway into finance and then it started into the church but it stopped,” said Heidelberg.

One firefighter suffered moderate burns during the initial fire attack and was taken to the hospital for treatment.

As firefighters were battling the blaze, an arson investigator en route to the call spotted a suspicious person and ultimately made an arrest.

They believe that suspect is responsible for both church fires.

While it will take major restoration and construction to get the Central International Church open, Heidelberg is confident his Baptist church will be back in service on Sunday.

“A lot of work to do, a lot of work to do. We’ll be back running for Sunday, that’s a guarantee,” he said.

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